[ISN] Indian outsourcers push to boost data security

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Jun 14 2004 - 01:59:02 PDT

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    By Narayanan Madhavan
    JUNE 10, 2004 
    India's booming software and outsourcing sectors are trying to improve
    data protection to please increasingly security-conscious clients and
    to preempt protectionist laws, industry officials said today.
    Officials at the National Association of Software and Service
    Companies (NASSCOM) told a news conference that they will work with
    customers, regulators and law enforcers to bolster "trustworthy
    outsourcing" in India.
    India, where English-speaking workers earn a fraction of what their
    Western counterparts make, exported $12.5 billion worth of software
    and services in the past year, up more than 30% from the previous
    year. But protectionist laws have surfaced in some U.S. states to
    prevent local governments from outsourcing back-office jobs to India,
    while candidates in the U.S. presidential election have also spoken of
    measures to check job losses.
    U.S. lawmakers often cite security concerns about bank details and
    medical records being transferred to foreign countries when
    campaigning against outsourcing.
    "There could be some legislation on data protection. I don't want to
    wait for it to happen. I want to be proactive," said Kiran Karnik,
    president of NASSCOM. "We have to watch that these [data issues] don't
    become nontariff barriers."
    Karnik said the industry association planned to encourage Indian
    companies to share information on back-office workers, create a
    certification authority for safety and plug gaps in Indian laws by
    talking with Europe and the U.S.
    A cybersecurity summit with the U.S. is planned for October, and
    NASSCOM plans to replicate a cybersecurity lab it formed for police in
    Bombay in other cities, Karnik said.
    "India does not have a specific data protection act, but there are six
    laws which cover about 98% of the requirements," said Sunil Mehta, a
    vice president at NASSCOM.
    Between March 2003 and this March, back-office work such as call
    center operations and accounting services generated $3.6 billion in
    revenue and 245,000 of the jobs in the sector, which employs 800,000
    people overall.
    NASSCOM said in a statement that a survey it commissioned found that
    Indian companies have rarely faced any problems on data security. And,
    despite an army of programmers, no major computer viruses have been
    traced back to India, Karnik said.
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